By Senator Susan Collins
Each year, some of Maine’s most exceptional students are chosen to attend one of the United States military service academies. One of my greatest honors as a United States Senator is having the opportunity to nominate to the academies these exceptional students, many of whom will be our nation’s future military leaders. That nomination process is again underway.
The academies include the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY; the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO; the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; and the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. Admission to the United States Coast Guard Academy, also a federal service academy, does not require a congressional nomination.
West Point, located 50 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River, has been training young people to become commissioned leaders in the United States Army for more than 200 years. West Point cadets participate in a rigorous academic program that parallels equally demanding physical and military training regimes. In addition, cadets participate in a series of guest lectures and other events designed to cultivate their moral and ethical development.
Students who wish to become officers in the United States Air Force can seek an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy, located in the high altitudes of Colorado Springs. Since 1958, this academy – the youngest of all military service academies – has trained its cadets to serve as officers in the United States Air Force. Upon graduation, half of them will become pilots or navigators; others will begin technological and management careers.
The Naval Academy, located on the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland, trains its midshipmen for careers as officers in the United States Navy. The midshipmen complete what the academy describes as “a four-year immersion program,” educating students in the classroom, as well as on their ships and athletic fields.
Finally, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, teaches students how to succeed in the maritime and transportation industries or the Armed Forces. Students graduating from the Merchant Marine Academy receive a Bachelor of Science degree, a merchant marine license, and an appointment as a commissioned officer in the reserves or on active duty in the United States Armed Forces.
Admittance into any of the service academies offers the opportunity for students to receive a first-class education at no cost to their families. Further, once students graduate from an academy, they will serve our country as commissioned officers in the United States military.
The academies are very competitive and open only to those students who demonstrate the highest standards in academics, extracurricular activities, and in their personal conduct. Students who have completed their education at one of the academies would tell you that the education and leadership training they received are well worth the effort and hard work.
High school students interested in attending a service academy should start thinking about this goal early in order to complete the steps within the required deadlines for this highly competitive, but rewarding process.
In order to be considered for a military academy appointment, students must be recommended by an authorized nominating source. The most common is a congressional nomination, which includes nominations from the Vice President, Members of the U.S. Senate, and Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Starting May 15, I will again begin accepting applications from high school juniors seeking my nomination for admission in the summer of 2015. Completed applications may be submitted until October 31 of the student’s senior year. If you are or know a high school junior who is interested in attending one of the U.S. military academies, I encourage you to contact the Academy Nominations Coordinator in my Portland constituent service center at (207) 780-3575. You can also visit my website, which contains more detailed information about the application and nomination process, as well as the necessary forms, at www.collins.senate.gov.
Attending a military service academy is the beginning of an exciting and challenging journey of personal and professional growth and proud service to our country. I commend these outstanding students for pursuing this honorable and prestigious goal.